Simon Reed

Olympic pressure could count against Federer

Simon Reed

View gallery


Roger Federer celebrates winning Wimbledon

I think it's clear that Roger Federer is taking the Olympics the most seriously of all the top players.

That's not to say Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray are not hugely motivated for these Games, which — particularly given it's at Wimbledon — most in tennis are calling the 'Fifth Grand Slam'.

Nadal has said publicly that these Olympics are a priority for him; Djokovic is a very nationalistic Serb, and it's clear that the Davis Cup win helped inspire that marvellous run of form he had; and Murray, whether you call him British or Scottish, will be fighting his backside off to try and win it on home turf.

But Federer, while he might not say so publicly, is a man of records, a man of legend, and winning these Olympics would add further to his already incredible legacy.

He says he'll play on, but these are likely to be his last Olympic Games as a singles player — he'll just be too old come Rio in 2016.

However, this added motivation could well count against him. There is a theory that he was able to come back from a difficult situation against Murray at Wimbledon because he had put less pressure on himself than usual: for Federer, this season's main goal has always been the Olympics.

Would Federer have been able to come back from a set down against Murray at Wimbledon with that kind of pressure? Would he have come through those five-setters, and that epic with Djokovic, if Wimbledon had been his number-one goal?

I'm not so sure — his win against Murray in particular came as a result of how relaxed he was. Will Federer be able to cope with that kind of pressure at the Olympics?

The others will hope not as, in the form he's in, Federer is rightfully number one in the world again.

Conversely, Murray will be helped by these Games coming so soon after his heartbreak at Wimbledon.

I do think those post-setback wallowing periods are over for Murray — such as when he lost the Australian Open final and took four or five months to get back to form.

He's mentally much stronger now, and bounces back far more quickly. I think it is good for Murray that he's able to immerse himself in a major event straight away as, despite his new resolve, he may have had a few weeks feeling sorry for himself.

He's had his cathartic experience, got over it, and moved on. He may not win it, but he's got a great chance of a medal.

Outside the top four, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the only man with a chance of making an impact on these Olympics.

He's in the form of his life, appears to have learned how to manage pressure, and is playing some fabulous tennis — on grass particularly. And he will feel a lot less pressure than the other four, for different reasons, and could really spring a surprise.


The women's event will likely follow the same pattern as other Slams have been in the past year or so. Natural order is restored — the order that makes Serena Williams unbeatable so long as she's close to 90% of her peak form.

View gallery


Again Serena's to lose

Of course — and I said this before the last two Slams — you can never tell with Serena. She is her own worst enemy at times — she could go out in the first round, as she did at the French Open, or win the whole thing without dropping a set.

If Serena is not in the top 10% of her game, there are only two women who I feel can challenge her on grass.

Petra Kvitova, who has the weapons and the shots so long as the draw helps her and she keeps her focus, and of course Maria Sharapova, who is better than ever and will be in the hunt at every event she plays.

Sharapova has been a factor in every tournament she's entered recently, so if Serena messes up I would have to say she is the second-favourite for the women's title.

View comments (43)